The Pittsburgh Steelers’ over-under for win totals ahead of the 2020 regular season in the post-draft analysis was posted recently, and Las Vegas currently has their number at 9.0 wins. Pittsburgh has fallen short of or just narrowly cleared that win total in each of the past two years—but they should have a much better offense than they did in 2019, and a much better defense than in 2018.
Still, there is naturally going to be some hesitance, if not skepticism, about throwing money behind a team whose franchise quarterback is 38 years old and hasn’t thrown an NFL-worthy pass since the middle of September, between then and now having surgery on his throwing elbow because it gave out on him.
One of the people buying the over on Pittsburgh is Matt Bowen, who chose their line of 9.0 wins as the line they feel is the best bet right now, for an article on ESPN that addressed a number of different topics, including most anticipated rookie debuts, and Super Bowl favorites (nobody picked the Steelers to make the Super Bowl, by the way, but lots of Saints vs Chiefs). Bowen writes:
The Steelers feature one of the NFL’s top defenses, a unit that can create pressure and take the ball away. Now pair that with an offense that gets a major boost from the return of Ben Roethlisberger. I see Mike Tomlin’s team getting to the 10-win mark in a tough and physical AFC North.
The Steelers had four different defenders during the 2019 regular season produce at least six takeaways, two of which were new to the team. T.J. Watt recovered four fumbles and intercepted two passes, as did rookie linebacker Devin Bush. Joe Haden and September trade acquisition Minkah Fitzpatrick both intercepted five passes. Haden recovered one fumble, Fitzpatrick two. Between the four of them, they produced three defensive touchdowns, plus a turnover in the end zone, and three game-sealing takeaways.
As for the offense, it was statistically among the very worst in the NFL last season, particularly in the red zone. But that was after having the best red-zone offense in 2018—and a healthy Ben Roethlisberger, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and James Conner. Getting those guys back right will make a world of difference.
Put that offense together with last year’s defense, and there’s no reason this can’t be a title-contending team. Of course, there are so many contingencies and things that have to go right. But the Super Bowl winner is almost always a team for whom almost everything goes right, isn’t it?